Right-wing bloggers have seized on remarks by White House green jobs advisor Van Jones to claim that he is a “race baiter” who is “just like herpes.” In 2006, Van Jones recorded a series of lectures on good, evil and social justice, based on his years of experience as an activist who successfully worked to reform the California criminal justice system with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. In one such lecture, he discussed how society is failing not just minority youth but also white youth, making reference to the Columbine shooting:
Our young white males are suffering in this society, profoundly. Profoundly. And no one is saying a word about it. We’ll criminalize the black student, black child, criminalize the Latino child, we have this whole discussion about whether they are animals or they not animals, should we abuse them should we help them, blah blah blah. You’ve never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never. They always say, “We can’t believe it happened here. We can’t believe it’s these suburban white kids.” It’s only them! Now, a black kid might shoot another black kid. He’s not going to shoot up the whole school! “My cousin’s up in here, I’m not going to shoot the whole school then, I might hit my cousin! I’m gonna shoot you though!”
But these young white men will be in so much pain, and so isolated, so alienated they’ll shoot up the entire school. Where is the concern, where is the love, where is the compassion for these young men?
Van Jones “mocks Columbine,” RedState.com claims, even as they admit “his statement is true as far as it goes.” “Only ‘Suburban White Kids’ Shoot Up Schools,” blares the Drudge Report. But Van Jones’ speech is clearly a desperate plea for compassion and healing — to recognize that though our criminal justice system and society still treat youths differently based on race and class, we should do better no matter what color — black, brown or white.
Van Jones continues:
Where is concern, where is the love, where is the compassion for these young men? And it is doubly twisted, because if there’s anything that you’re doing that is wrong, we want to hurt you, we want to punish you, we’re not going to help you, we’re not going to love you. And so rather than punish you and attack you and jump on you like we do the black kids, we’ll just ignore you and we’ll just neglect you.
We have got to begin to look at this idea of criminality, of evil, of wrongdoing, of mistakes as being a universal condition, requiring a universally loving response and a universally embracing response — so that our society in trying to confront evil at any level does not in fact become evil.
It is just as evil, in my view — to attack these young black and brown men — it is just as evil to neglect and to ignore these young white men, who, as best I can tell, have very little now in the way of loving, affirmative male leadership, that can put an arm around, wipe away a tear, and show a kind of masculinity that is not brittle or mean-spirited. And that I think is the problem that gets masked over by calling any community evil.
Now, according to right-wing bloggers, it is Van Jones who is “evil.”